RANGERS manager Steven Gerrard has admitted he is fearful that flagrant breaches of strict coronavirus rules could lead to Scottish football being shut down again - and the return of supporters to grounds being delayed further.

Gerrard and his Ibrox captain James Tavernier took part in a Zoom call with their Premiership counterparts and Professor Jason Leitch, the National Clinical Director for Scotland, on Monday night.

Professor Leitch reminded the top flight managers and skippers they had a responsibility to adhere to return to training and return to playing protocols as well as wider health guidelines contained in the route map out of the Covid-19 crisis.

The move came after a group of Aberdeen players – two of whom have since tested positive for coronavirus – flouted them and visited a city centre bar together after the Rangers game back on Saturday, August 1.

And it was also held after it emerged that Celtic defender Boli Bolingoli, who played against Kilmarnock a Rugby Park on Sunday, had travelled to Spain and back last week without either informing the Parkhead club or self-isolating on his return.

The SFA and SPFL Joint Response Group yesterday accepted a request from the Scottish government to postpone Aberdeen and Celtic’s league games this week.

Gerrard, whose team have won their opening Premiership games against Aberdeen and St Mirren and are two points clear of defending champions Celtic, admitted he is now seriously concerned about football being stopped altogether and the implications for fans.

“It is still fragile, certainly after recent events this week,” he said. “The message from the Zoom call was pretty clear in terms of what we need to do as managers and players in terms of our own behaviour moving forward.

“We were also asked to repeat the message to the squad and the staff members at the club. I don’t think it’s my place to be putting that into the public domain. But what I will say is the message was extremely clear – if these mistakes continue to happen there is a risk that football will be taken away.

“It is a concern. It is alarming because everyone loves the game. We all spoke very positively as managers and coaches and players about how happy we were to come out of lockdown and how privileged we felt to go back to work and get back to our routines.

“I don’t want that to change and I’m sure everyone will echo that. It’s important that everyone takes responsibility moving forward and we do the right things so that football can continue to go on. If we all want supporters back in the short-term we have to continue to prove that we all can do the right things.

“Everyone is desperate to get the game back to normality and that is full houses and crowds and atmospheres. That’s what football is about. I don’t think the fans deserve to stay away for any longer than they have.

“So players and coaches need to continue to do the right things. It gives other people confidence then to go to the next step and keep getting over these small hurdles to get football back to normality.”

He continued: “Look, the reality is that people’s health is more important than football. There is a global pandemic on here. I knew the severity before I went on the call because we have obviously been living it for months and months, but you saw certain things on that call and it really hit home.

“The severity, the numbers, the people wo have been infected. And the risks moving forward of a second wave and a third wave. It is very important that everyone continues to do the right thing and we all know what that is.

“The important thing for me to concern myself with is how people are behaving at Rangers. The medical department here have been extremely top in relaying the messages and the rules and making sure we know the government guidelines.

“My focus has to be on what happens at Rangers. But, of course, I am concerned that if mistakes continue to happen, that football will be taken away and that’s not what anyone wants.

“It would be detrimental to the whole game, not just us at Rangers. Everybody wants the game to continue, move forward and get back to normality. I don’t think a delay or cancellation would help anybody within the game.

“All our work would be taken away, the routines, normality and plans and nobody would be able to watch football in this country so it would be detrimental to everybody involved in the game.”

Gerrard’s men have let in just one goal – to Bayer Leverkusen in German in the second leg of their Europa League last 16 tie last Thursday night – since lockdown restrictions were eased and he admitted he would be looking for them to maintain their fine defensive record against St Johnstone this evening.

“I’m very happy with how we are defending,” he said. “Even in Leverkusen, aside from one moment, we looked really organised. We’ve put a lot of work into our out-of-possession stuff and our organisation every single day. And we have done for two years.

“We will continue to work on that. We’re certainly not sitting here thinking everything is rosy because we have had two clean sheets. That’s a constant message. We need constant work on the training ground to keep making sure that we’re hard to play against and we’re not easy to score against.

“One thing's for sure: that has to be our base to go and attack from. If we’ve got any ambitions or dreams of being successful as a group, we have to defend properly all over the pitch.”